Recognising gratitude and pride

I wrote not long ago about the fact I've spent the last 6-12 months introducing new daily rituals into my life to help my mind and my body. That post was specifically about reading for 30 minutes a day.

Today's post is about possibly the most transformative step I've added into my daily routine: using my pride and gratitude journals.

The first addition to my days was my gratitude journal. Journals, plural, because I've filled a whole notebook and I'm onto book number two.

Widely known to be a beneficial daily practice, I'd heard the idea of gratitude journals and gratitude lists many times, but not actually done anything about it.

When I was really unwell last year, I kicked myself into gear and decided it was time to start working on changing my attitude away from negativity and towards gratitude.

I use a plain notebook (because I'm not a fan of being told how to structure my thoughts!), and simply write the date with five bullet points beneath it.

It takes minutes, and I tend to do this in the mornings, reflecting on the previous day. I list five things I'm grateful for about the previous day, however big or small. However bad a day you've had, you can find five things.

It might be that you ate a delicious dinner, got a nice text from a friend, or just that the sun came out for half an hour.

It doesn't matter what the things are, it just matters that you are noticing those moments and identifying things and people you're grateful for.

Since early June 2016, I've listed five things for every single day, without fail.

A month or so on from starting my gratitude journal, I was reflecting on whether I had noticed any changes. Already, I was finding it much more easy to think of those five things, and was regularly feeling like I could list many more.

But there was something missing.

There was another thing casting a shadow over my ability to find the positives or things I was grateful for.

I struggled to feel proud of myself for anything I achieved.

So whilst I was getting good at noticing good things that were happening, or at feeling grateful for the people around me, I wasn't getting any better at noticing good things in myself.

I bought another notebook.

This was to be my pride journal.

Every day, I was going to make myself write down four things I was proud of.

It could be speaking to someone new, opening up to someone about my worries, going to counselling, or even (in the middle of last year) just getting through the day feeling ok.

Suddenly, I was having to acknowledge things I had achieved every single day.

At first, I really, really struggled with this. Especially because I started this journal at a time when the smallest things were a struggle.

Until I realised that this meant even the tiniest things were achievements.

Going one stop on the tube was a big tick. Eating my dinner was a big tick. Getting out and about was a big tick.

I'm getting better at it.

I've been able to add things like singing with the band at church, running my first 5km without stopping and trying multiple new foods to expand my (previously very restrictive) diet.

They can be tiny steps or huge ones, but it's important to recognise progress and be proud of yourself.

A year on, I'm not planning to stop keeping these journals any time soon. Even when I'm in the worst mood, they force me to pause and focus on the good.

That can surely only be a good thing.


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